Absolute Power 3.0 stars

After The Bridges of Madison County, after A Perfect World, after Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood the director opts to relax a little. But not right off the bat. The first half-hour or so (of a characteristically unhurried two hours) is as focussed and concentrated an opening stretch as anything this side of Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samouraï: a master burglar (Eastwood himself) interrupted in mid-caper by illicit lovers, sexual sadism, homicide, and a cover-up involving the President of the United States. Thereafter, the movie submerses itself inch by inch into a potboiler sensibility, and it gets sillier as it goes. Even in a state of relaxation, however, even in a state of silliness, Eastwood in his mature phase has a lot to offer to anyone who truly believes that movies are a visual medium -- music for the eyes -- and who values them in and of themselves, not just for what they have to "say." (The entire movie will be beautifully quiet, with an ear cocked to the muted percussion of keys and locks, cups and saucers, pencils and paper, footfalls, doors, the instruments at hand: music of a more literal sort.) The top-grade cast, not heavily taxed, includes Laura Linney, Gene Hackman, Judy Davis, Scott Glenn, Dennis Haysbert, Ed Harris, and E.G. Marshall. 1997.

Duncan Shepherd

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